The 25,000 square metre new area comprises eight animal exhibits, a bird theatre, a walking trail, two classrooms and a selection of high end retail and food & beverage facilities.
“Ocean Park embarked on the Master Redevelopment Project in 2006 to bring in new offerings and refresh current assets,” notes the park’s CEO, Tom Mehrmann. “The completion of Amazing Asian Animals is only the beginning. As we continue with our redevelopment, we will expand Ocean Park’s attractions from 35 today to over 70 when the project is finished in 2012/13, taking Ocean Park to a new level as a world-class theme park of the next generation.”
The flagship feature of Amazing Asian Animals is Giant Panda Adventure, home to four red pandas, an endangered species on loan to Ocean Park from Chengdu city in the Sichuan Province of China. The building is also home to the park’s breeding pair of giant pandas, Ying Ying and Le Le and, it is hoped, their future family. Also sharing the habitat are Chinese salamanders, alligators and the world’s smallest Asian small-clawed otters, plus turtles and birds.
The Giant Panda Adventure Building is also an attraction in itself as it is Hong Kong’s only domed structure fully-covered with a ETFE (ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) exterior, a material that allows the total spectrum of ultra-violet light to permeate through, and thus enable plants to be grown underneath. The same material was use to coat the giant domes at the Eden Project in England.
Another major attraction is Goldfish Treasures, featuring more than 300 varieties of the fish. And we bet you never knew that many existed? The goldfish has long been an inspiration for Chinese arts and crafts, and in this new exhibit the fish are displayed in enchanting “treasure chests” inspired by Chinese medicine cabinets.
In the 1,200 sq m Amazing Bird Theatre, audiences are taught that human activities impact birds’ habitats and many of them are now in danger. Opening soon will be a nature path called the Emerald Trail, set against the rich landscape, flora and fauna of the Asian forests, complete with waterfalls, a suspension bridge and more animal exhibits.
Five tailor-made education programmes at the Amazing Asian Animals Ed-venture Centre allow members of the family to learn more about the creatures they have seen. Guests can also have breakfast with the pandas (presumably it’s not just bamboo on the menu), visit the back-of-house areas and embark on a nocturnal exploration!
Completing the experience are the new Panda Café and Panda Kingdom shop, which present the food and retail offerings in a sophisticated, contemporary setting with the ambience of nature. To promote the new area, Ocean park has also unveiled a number of new additions to its family of mascots, including Redd the panda, Later Gator and Goldie the goldfish.
Opened in 1977, Hong Kong’s “home-grown” theme park has always had a strong animal and marine offering. Run as a not-for-profit organisation it aims to connect visitors with nature and is recognised for its animal husbandry and research. Part of the proceeds from every admission ticket go to the Ocean Park Conservation Foundation.
The park is performing incredibly well right now, witnessing five successive years of record attendance, revenue and surplus. Last year the venue attracted over five million guests, making it one of the world’s top 15 theme parks.
By all accounts this season is looking promising too: “It was exhilarating to see a 30% increase in attendance compared with the same period last year just four days into the grand opening,” notes Mehrmann. “We will go from strength to strength as the new attractions under the Master Redevelopment Project continue to materialise.”